Tag Archives: Drug Addiction

Effective Ways to Prevent Relapse After Addiction Rehab

Completing an addiction recovery program is a huge accomplishment, and it’s the first step in living a long and healthy life. To maintain the new trajectory you started in treatment, you’ll need to tend to your recovery on an ongoing basis. This is a lifelong process and having some tips for preventing relapse can be helpful. While there is no magic solution to banish the possibility of relapse, you can apply some methods to stay on track.

Avoid Tempting Situations

The Four D's for Relapse PreventionIf you’re newly out of rehab, it might not be wise to meet up with your old friends. Some people decide to test their willpower and hang out with old friends who still use to prove it no longer affects them, but this is inherently dangerous. Stay clear of emotional and physical triggers, especially early in recovery. Avoid going places where there will be substance abuse, as well as people or places that remind you of times you used.

In the same regard, seek out a positive support network. Be around people who do not abuse substances and who support your new lifestyle. Unhealthy relationships and unhealthy people don’t have a place in your new life, as they will only tempt you back into your old one.

Observe the 4 D’s

Throughout the course of your treatment, we’ll help you prepare for the challenges of re-entering the real world. In rehab, your access to substances is restricted, but once you transition back to mainstream society, the only true control is yourself. For this reason, many mental health professionals suggest following the 4 Ds when cravings strike:


In other words, delay the decision to use. Sometimes, you struggle minute to minute, and those minutes can stretch into what seems like a lifetime. Remind yourself that it’s only a fraction of your day. The longer you successfully delay your decision, the weaker those cravings will become.


Take a series of deep, steady breaths when you experience a craving, as this will help calm your mind and slow your heart rate. Focus on the movement of your diaphragm – up and down, in and out. This will increase the amount of oxygen to your brain, which becomes restricted when we’re in panic mode.


Find something to do, other than using. This one is easier said than done because cravings can seem to take over your whole world. Do whatever you need to do to distract yourself from the craving, whether it’s cleaning your home, taking a walk, or calling a friend.


In other words, don’t panic. Once panic sets in, it’s easy to lose control. Think of how much stronger you’ll be for the experience, even if you don’t feel strong at the moment. Each time a craving passes, remind yourself of your inner strength. Positive thinking doesn’t have to be all sunshine and rainbows. It can be as simple as acknowledging when you conquer a challenge.

Acknowledge Co-Occurring Mental Disorders

Many who come through our doors suffer from a dual diagnosis. That’s when the substance dependency happens alongside a mental issue of some kind, like anxiety or depression. Part of staying ahead of your addiction is recognizing the role your mental disorder plays in it. To maintain your recovery effectively, you’ll have to tend to your substance abuse and your other mental health diagnoses, because you’ll have triggers for both.

Acknowledge the Journey

Remember, recovery is a journey, not a destination. And as with all journeys, the landscape will change over time.

In the earliest days of your recovery and beyond, your main priority should be your health. While boredom can be a problem for people newly out of rehab, so can having too much on your plate. Don’t cram too much into your schedule for the sake of being busy. Create balance and know your limits to minimize your stress. Getting plenty of exercise and sleep is also important. The more you tend to your health, the better off you’ll be.

One of the main problems people have after being out of treatment for a while is becoming too complacent.  It’s natural for motivation to wane over time, but perform a “recovery audit” once in a while. It’s not necessary to attend meetings forever, but find other ways to support your recovery efforts so that you don’t become complacent.

Continually striving to take care of yourself and knowing your triggers will help ensure your life is long and healthy.

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The Value of Recreational Activities in Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment

When a person struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, the substance often becomes the person’s only means of feeling pleasure or contentment. Both physically and behaviorally, addictive substances can replace activities that once brought the user joy, such as eating, physical activity and favorite hobbies.

Drugs can alter the brain’s reward center, disrupting opioid receptor function and flooding the brain with dopamine, the chemical responsible for producing feelings of pleasure and happiness. Eventually, a user may no longer experience joy in everyday life without consuming drugs or alcohol.

The goal of addiction treatment is to help the user once again receive pleasure and enjoyment from everyday activities, without the need for substances. At Reflections Recovery Center, we combine talk therapy and other traditional addiction treatment methods with recreational activities in order to maximize the physical, mental and emotional wellness of our men.

Benefits of Recreational Activities in Addiction Treatment

While talk therapy can be very beneficial and is an important part of treatment, it is also good to get outdoors and take part in physical activities that engage the whole person and allow for different types of expression and learning.  

Recreational activities used in treatment can involve highly physical activities such as:

  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Running
  • Yoga

It can also include more leisurely activities such as:

  • Walking
  • Playing instruments
  • Singing and dancing
  • Creating or performing art
  • Hanging out in a safe and comfortable social environment

According to an article in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs on “A Holistic Approach to Substance Abuse Treatment,” patients show improved self-esteem, self-confidence and self-identity when recreational activities were used in treatment.

Physical Health

For physical types of recreational activities, such as hiking and yoga, there are the usual physical benefits that come with any type of exercise. Some types of exercise also stimulate the release of endorphins that lead to a natural high, which in turn can help the body re-balance neurotransmitters – such as dopamine – back to normal, healthy levels.  

Yoga, along with meditation and other holistic activities, has also been shown to help reduce symptoms during withdrawal.

Mental & Emotional Health

Recreational activities can be a great way to relieve stress, anxiety, frustration and anger. They also allow people to reconnect with hobbies they enjoyed as a child, or discover new “healthy obsessions” that provide ongoing enjoyment and satisfaction.

Activities that emphasize mind-body-spirit integration – such as yoga, meditation and tai chi – help create a healthy relationship with oneself that is based on self-love and self-respect. This ultimately strengthens the resolve to create a new life of sobriety that includes fun and healthy activities.

When recreational activities are a group experience, they give recovering addicts a chance to bond with one another and forge healthy relationships that can last a lifetime. These social ties become very important both during and after inpatient treatment.

Relapse Prevention

One of the biggest challenges that men face after leaving inpatient treatment is finding new ways to fill the time – time they used to spend using drugs or drinking. By continuing the recreational activities they began in treatment, men have a safe and healthy way to combat boredom.

Men can also discover new social groups and forge healthy friendships when they join clubs and organizations centered around a favorite hobby or activity. This reduces the temptation to go back to hanging out with people who were part of their substance-laden past.

In short, recreational activities can be an important part of building a new life based on healthy, natural fun that meets the physical, mental, emotional and entertainment needs of men recovering from addiction.

Recreational Activities at Reflections Recovery Center

Mountains Rediscover The Joys In Nature - Reflections Recovery CenterOur treatment center strongly encourages clients to dive into healthy outdoor activities, sports and hobbies that reintroduce them to the pleasures in life outside of chemically induced highs. Over time, these become enjoyable habits that ultimately take the place of drugs or alcohol.

Types of recreational activities that our male clients participate in include:

  • Wilderness hikes
  • Mountain climbing
  • Swimming (in pools and lakes)
  • Softball
  • Biking
  • Skateboarding
  • BMXing
  • Bonfires and BBQs
  • Many other fun and exhilarating outdoor activities

Northern Arizona Outings

We often go on outings into the beautiful terrain of Prescott, the Valley, and Northern Arizona. The environment and surroundings of this area offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. We are located amid the gorgeous Bradshaw Mountains and framed by the 1.25 million-acre Prescott National Forest. The temperate climate in Prescott is ideal for year-round outdoor excursions.

We also offer lower-intensity activities such as exploring the local town of Prescott, which is rich in history and culture. We may arrange visits to museums, go on rides at amusement parks and engage similar fun activities.

The town of Prescott has parks for skateboarding, multiple basketball courts, public swimming pools and other outdoor resources.

At Reflections Recovery Center, it’s our mission to help men struggling with addiction rediscover the everyday joys in life and have a good time without relying on a substance.

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Why Nutritional and Vitamin Therapy is Essential In Alcohol Detox and Alcoholism Recovery

Nutrition allows the human body to generate energy and maintain its systems. Proper nutrition is essential to everyone, but individuals attempting to recover from alcohol abuse will have a much smoother detox experience with a diet supplemented by vitamin therapy. Prolonged consumption of large quantities of alcohol has several adverse effects on the body, and poor nutrition makes the detox and recovery process more stressful and uncomfortable.

Alcohol’s Effects on the Body

To recognize how important nutrition and vitamin supplements are to alcohol abuse recovery, it’s vital to understand the effects alcohol abuse has on the human body. Symptoms will vary case by case due to individual health factors, how long alcohol abuse has continued, and how far the addiction has progressed.

Some alcoholics are so severely addicted that the bulk of the nutrients in their diet come from the alcoholic beverages they consume. When the body cannot obtain the nutrients it needs from consumed food and drink, it will start breaking down other tissues in the body. This also impacts the body’s glucose levels. Glucose, or blood sugar, is a necessary component for healthy brain functions as well as other metabolic processes.

Excessive alcohol intake can deregulate the body’s ability to control blood glucose levels. This can cause hypoglycemia (decreased blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar). These conditions can be harmful, especially for individuals with medical conditions such as diabetes.

Alcohol and Digestion 

After food is consumed, the digestive system breaks it down into its smaller molecular components. The body absorbs these compounds to maintain vital systems and create energy. Alcohol prevents the efficient breakdown of food by inhibiting the production of digestive enzymes. Food may be consumed, but the body is far less capable of breaking it down into a useful form while there is alcohol in the body.

Even when food is successfully broken down, alcohol inhibits the processes the body uses to absorb the nutrients and use them. Over time, this means an alcoholic will progressively receive less and less energy from the food and alcohol they consume, depriving the body of essential nutrients at an increasingly faster pace.

Health Risks of Advanced Alcoholism 

Long-term alcohol abuse is one of the most physically damaging forms of substance abuse. Untreated alcoholism cannot only cause complications in virtually every bodily system, but it can be fatal. Some of the long-term or permanent effects of alcohol abuse include heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver from vitamin A and E deficiencies, nerve damage, and pancreatitis. Additionally, alcoholics often experience seizures due to impaired brain function, and many advanced alcoholics suffer from dehydration and malnutrition.

Wet Brain Syndrome 

An especially dangerous condition, common in advanced alcoholics, is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, often called “wet brain.” This condition manifests when the body is deprived of vitamin B1 (thiamine) for an extended period, and hinders nervous system and brain functions.

Addiction and Nutrition 

Malnutrition is more dangerous than many realize, and it often goes unaddressed for long periods of time of time with alcoholics. When the body does not obtain the nutrients it needs to continue essential functions, the entire body begins to degrade. Essentially, the human body will begin breaking itself down to survive. Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic, and dehydration is not only dangerous, but over a long period of time, it can be seriously damaging to the body.

Alcohol itself is damaging to the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, but addictive patterns contribute to the damage as well. Most substance abusers will start neglecting self-care and other everyday activities as their addictions worsen. Eventually, the only thoughts are about where to find more alcohol. Not only does alcohol hurt the body when ingested, but the search for more alcohol also prevents the alcoholic from obtaining essential nutrition.

Vitamin Therapy 

When alcoholics seek treatment, it’s vital to address the damage that the alcohol has done to the body’s vital systems. Vitamin therapy describes treatment involving high doses of essential vitamins. This process helps the body regain essential functions. Vitamin therapy not only helps address malnutrition and dehydration and the severe issues they cause, but also helps the alcoholic by allowing them to approach the recovery process with a more solid foundation.

Addiction is deeply rooted in behavior, and while alcohol has a significant impact on physical health, the psychological battle with addiction is far more stressful and difficult. When the body and mind are deficient in essential vitamins, it becomes even harder.

The Detox Process 

Once the effects of an alcoholic’s last drink start to wane, he or she will begin experiencing withdrawal. Once the body has grown accustomed to a particular substance, it reacts negatively when that substance is no longer available – and this is withdrawal. For alcoholics, withdrawal typically entails delirium tremens, also called “DTs” or “the shakes,” and causes violent tremors. Additionally, severe anxiety, seizures, sweating, irregular heartbeat, fever, high blood pressure, hallucinations, nausea, and irritability commonly manifest during the withdrawal period.

Rebuilding the Body 

This is typically an excruciatingly painful process, and an alcoholic in withdrawal will experience intense cravings for more alcohol. With medical supervision and vitamin therapy, alcoholics can have a much easier time handling the onset of withdrawal and working through it.

The high doses of essential vitamins during treatment help jump-start the body’s essential functions. Vitamin therapy can be a valuable part of any alcoholic’s recovery and not only help the physical pains of detoxing, but also pave the way to a smoother psychological recovery with a healthier mind and body.

Though Alcohol Detox and Withdrawals Can Be Dangerous
Proper Detox Under Medical Supervision Is Safe, Painless, and a Necessary First Step in Addiction Recovery:

Removing Drug and Alcohol Toxins

Benzodiazepine Detox: Xanax and Valium Withdrawals Can Be Deadly

Many addicts believe they can quit “cold turkey.” As long as their willpower is strong enough, they assume they do not need rehabilitation or other long-term treatment. However, beating a drug addiction is not a matter of willpower, and quitting drugs cold turkey is extremely dangerous. Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are some of the most dangerous drugs to quit taking. Their withdrawals can be deadly, so if you are trying to stop them, you should seek medical detox.

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are effective in treating several conditions. As a result, users may not be fully aware they are taking them. Benzodiazepines are usually used to treat anxiety or insomnia. However, they also effectively treat seizures and convulsions, nausea and vomiting, and alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are used for general anesthesia or muscle relaxation.

Valium and Xanax are two of the most common benzos. Others include Ativan, Klonopin, Serax, and Halcion. Fast-acting benzodiazepines begin working in as little as 30-60 minutes. Slower-acting agents take several hours to work. Action duration can be as little as 11 hours, or as long as three days.

Dangers of Certain Benzos

While all benzodiazepine withdrawal is dangerous, some drugs are more deadly than others. Xanax, in particular, has been called “The Dangerous Benzodiazepine.” Its half-life, or the time it takes for the drug’s blood concentration to fall to half its peak value after a dose, is around 11 hours in the average adult. Thus, the effects of Xanax come on quickly and potently. Conversely, Xanax wears off quickly, causing users to take more in search of its calming effects. Xanax addiction happens faster than addiction to other downers.

Valium is another particularly dangerous benzo. It is one of the most common benzodiazepines on the illicit drug market. Some users take large amounts of Valium to mimic the effects of small amounts of Xanax. For example, a person taking 100 milligrams per day of Valium is taking an equivalent 5 milligrams of Xanax. While this might not sound like much, both drugs are extremely potent in these amounts.

How Benzodiazepine Addiction Happens

Many people become addicted to downers without fully realizing it. They begin with a prescription for a legitimate anxiety or pain issue, but due to the short half-lives of the drugs, the effects don’t last long. Therefore, the addict builds up a tolerance for higher doses. His or her doctor may realize what is happening and refuse to prescribe more of the benzos.

In cases where one doctor refuses to prescribe a benzodiazepine, an addict may engage in “doctor shopping.” Many users report going to one clinic and complaining of an individual issue, meeting with a doctor, and getting one prescription for Xanax, Valium, or OxyContin. Then the addict will go to a different clinic, report a different issue, and get a prescription for another benzodiazepine. The user learns to mix benzos for maximum effects, but he or she also increases the risk of severe symptoms, overdose, coma, or death.

The Dangers of Withdrawal from Downers

Detoxing is the most dangerous phase for the addict. Benzodiazepines are designed to alter brain chemistry, so the patient doesn’t experience anxiety, insomnia, or any other ailment for which the medicine is prescribed. However, this efficacy is what makes benzodiazepine withdrawal potentially deadly. An addict cannot “quit cold turkey” because his or her brain and body are both intensely dependent on the drug of choice. Even with regular dosages of the benzodiazepine, long-term use can lead to withdrawal-type symptoms.

Benzodiazepine users typically receive little support or advice when trying to stop using. Depending on the drug, withdrawal may not set in for days or weeks, giving the addict a false sense of security. Once withdrawal is in full swing, pain can be so severe the user returns to his or her drug for relief. The potential for overdose is especially high in such cases.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms often begin with symptoms the drug was initially meant to treat. That is a person who experienced anxiety or panic attacks may have severe flare-ups. Restlessness is common, as are aches and pains; some addicts experience chest pain and may worry they have heart attacks. Cramps, numbness, dizziness, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, urgency, and incontinence may occur.

During withdrawal, the brain chemistry will undergo severe changes. Most benzo addicts report memory and concentration problems. Others develop paranoia or obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Some users develop issues with perception, such as feeling that stationary objects are moving. Electric shock sensations and seizures can occur; if untreated, these may lead to coma or death.

Dealing with Benzodiazepine Detoxification Correctly

The safest way to undergo benzodiazepine withdrawal is with medical supervision. Contact your doctor or the professionals at a rehabilitation facility such as Reflections Recovery Center. Do not attempt to quit on your own, and do not lean only on family and friends for withdrawal care. Depending on your addiction, your doctor or another professional may recommend checking into inpatient treatment.

Seeking Help for Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

If you or a loved one is addicted to benzodiazepines, get help now. Contact Reflections Recovery Center to learn about our program, which includes professional detox treatment & clinical therapies.

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Meth and Heroin Are Growing Problems in Prescott and Across Arizona

The Drug Problems in Arizona

Drug overdoses are killing Americans at an alarming rate. From 2000 to 2014, there were almost half a million deaths across the country. The rates have been climbing steadily since the 1990s, but 2014 showed a sharp upwards spike, increasing 14 percent in 12 months.

Arizona has a particularly unsightly history when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse. In 2014 the state ranked sixth in prescription drug overdoses and tied for fourth for alcohol-related deaths. In fact, around 13.4 percent of the working-age deaths were attributed to alcohol in some way.

Cocaine has been highly abused in Arizona as well. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported approximately 1.5 million current cocaine users aged 12 or older in 2014. Adults aged 18 to 25 years showed the highest rate of cocaine usage. Yet it appears a new problem is on the horizon, quickly taking hold of the number one spot.

Methamphetamines, the New Number One

Methamphetamines, The New Number OneMethamphetamines have become incredibly pervasive in Arizona. In 2015 alone, authorities seized almost 6,400 pounds. Even more alarming, this number represents a massive 294 percent increase over the past six years. In 2010 only 1,613 pounds were seized. The usage rates have now surpassed cocaine, which is more difficult to procure.

Erica Curry is a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Phoenix Division. According to Curry, meth has been recognized as the most prevalent drug partly due to Mexican cartels. The cartels are shifting cocaine trafficking efforts to Europe, where they are more profitable.

The Switch to Methamphetamines

With cocaine trafficking shifting to Europe, people are forced to look for other types of stimulants. Many are switching to methamphetamine, also supplied by the cartel. Curry says meth is more profitable for dealers because of the high demand. Addicts may need to use as often as every few hours to maintain the sensation of euphoria.

One former Prescott area former addict said she smoked twice an hour. “Even at my job, I would find bathrooms,” she said. “I could lock myself in the bathroom, smoke meth, and then go out and finish my mail route.” Today she is a manager at a recovery center and has been clean for eight years.

The Dangers of Methamphetamines

One of the biggest problems with this drug is how quickly it takes over the user’s life. All behaviors and actions redirect to focus on staying high. Haney said she would be awake for four days in a row when she first started using. Then, she could only focus on being high. She lost considerable weight because she didn’t eat regularly.

Sarah Harmon had a similar experience a few years ago. She was homeless before the age of 20 and resorted to stealing food and clothing. “I didn’t feel human anymore,” she admitted. “[Meth] came before everything.”

Meth Smuggling In Arizona

Meth labs are quite rare in Arizona, although there are still occasional cases. For the most part, manufacturing takes place in Mexico because of the Combat Methamphetamine Act of 2005. This law was signed in by President George W. Bush to limit the decongestant pseudoephedrine, a major ingredient in meth. The law limits the amount of over-the-counter medicine one person can purchase. Further, it is tracked by unique product IDs.

In Mexico, on the other hand, there are no restrictions on pseudoephedrine purchases. Drug producers can create hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine at one time and cart it across the border. Curry says this equals “pure profit for the Mexican cartels.”

The smugglers also advance their techniques. Curry says they have found meth in lotions, shampoos, and even toys.

Heroin, the Number Two

Although meth easily takes the top slot for drug abuse, heroin is a strong contender. It can be used in smaller doses than methamphetamine, but is not as easy to acquire. Even so, thousands of people turn to the substance each year. In 2014, 605 people required emergency room treatment for heroin overdoses.

Why Heroin Is So Prominent

Heroin Related Emergency Room TreatmentsLike most drugs, heroin begins with legal prescription drugs. Christina Corieri is the Health and Human Services Advisor for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. According to Corieri, 75 percent of heroin users begin with prescription pain relievers. This presents a unique environment for addiction, considering the amount of prescriptions dispensed in the United States. According to IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, 4.3 billion prescriptions were filled in 2014 alone.

“If you look at the United States we actually represent only 5 percent of the world’s population, and we represent 80 percent of the prescription drugs,” says Corieri. This means it’s incredibly easy to procure drugs and lay the foundation for addiction. Once people cannot sustain their needs on prescriptions they turn to heroin – the street version.

The Addiction Mind-Set

One of the biggest problems with prescription drug addiction is people may become hooked on the pain relievers without realizing it. Brittany Pinkston became addicted to opiates after a hand injury when she was 17. Pinkston says she didn’t consider herself to have a problem because the pills came from a doctor. Yet, within a month she was completely dependent on the drugs to help her sleep and work.

The Heroin Effect

Once people transition to heroin, it can be nearly impossible for them to recover their lives. The drug is deadly, particularly because it is often cut with other substances to dilute it and make it more profitable for the manufacturers. These substances can range from caffeine to rat poison, causing their own interactions and potentially becoming more dangerous than heroin itself.

Heroin use is becoming more prevalent in the United States, despite its second place ranking in Arizona. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports a six-fold increase in the total number of deaths from 2001 to 2014. Because heroin is a more cost-effective substitute it can drive the cycle of addiction much faster than some other substances.

 Seeking Treatment

Methamphetamine and heroin are both highly addictive and powerful substances, quickly becoming the drugs of choice for users. In many cases, the only way to recover is by seeking professional treatment. Reflections Recovery Center is Prescott, Arizona’s premier treatment facility. The trained professionals and proven techniques can be the key to forming healthier habits and coping mechanisms.

Reflections Recovery Has Been Treating Arizona Natives and Visitors From Neighboring States for Years, and Has Developed Successful Tactics in Providing Full Recovery From Heroin, Methamphetamine, Alcohol and Drugs

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Facts About Prescription Drug Abuse
in Arizona

Illicit drugs receive ample media attention, but prescription drug abuse has become a national crisis that has hit Arizona hard. Nationally, this epidemic has been brewing: a 2009 survey demonstrated that 7 million Americans had recently misused a prescription drug. Perhaps most astonishing is that this number means more people were abusing cocaine, heroin, inhalants, and hallucinogens – combined.

How Prescription Drug Addiction Affects Arizona

Different states are experiencing different levels of trouble. Arizona ranks among the mid-range states for prescription drug overdose deaths, but this is a scenario that leads to escalated use. In 2014, there were just over 1,200 cases across the state. Arizona didn’t show a statistically significant increase in deaths in previous years, but the ranking is climbing. There was a 2.7 percent decrease in deaths from 2013 to 2014. In 2015, however, the state was ranked number 12 for drug overdose mortality.

Arizona is currently better off than other states, but the pattern of escalation continues. Last year there were enough prescription pain relievers dispensed to medicate each Arizona adult continuously for two weeks (according to the state government). This equals more than 300 million pills released into the state in the course of a year.

Prescription drug abuse is classically more common in adults than adolescents, although current trends suggest the gap is closing. Thirteen percent of adult residents of the state admitted to misusing the drugs, while 8 percent of youth said the same. Because of these numbers, Arizona is listed as the 6th highest for abuse among people 12 and older.

The Personal and Financial Costs of Addiction to Arizona

Arizona narcotic possession arrest rates have sharply increased. From 2010 to 2012, there was a 15 percent jump. The year 2013 also included more than 4,000 DUI drug arrests, which is a monumental 99.4 percent rise in the course of the last decade. Such numbers mean that the state must pay for the increased law enforcement.

The Personal And Financial Costs Of Addiction To ArizonaThere are many costs associated with prescription drug abuse – and many involve more than money. Families are torn apart and lives are destroyed, but many people underestimate the potential devastation because the drugs typically come from a doctor. Additionally, there are big monetary retributions, aside from the deaths and degradation of abusers’ lives.

In 2012, the state spent more than $177 million on emergency room visits and hospitalizations for poisonings (of which prescription drugs are the leading cause). The average bill for each visit is an astounding $4,769. State statistics for the previous year were equally disturbing. Of the nearly 10,000 ER visits, more than 2,300 of the patients there for opioid abuse were under 24 years old. What began as an addiction of primarily adults seems to be spreading to the younger generations.

The Unfortunate Trickle-Down Effect of Addiction

Unfortunately, the epidemic isn’t limited to teenagers and young adults. Around 3 out of every 1,000 Arizona babies were born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, which means they were born an addict. These babies must suffer painful and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms in their first hours of life.

Lack of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs in Arizona

AZ Counties MapThere are certain social conditions that may be amplifying prescription drug abuse problems in Arizona. Most notably, this type of drug abuse is often seen as socially acceptable because the drugs are believed to be safe. Education about the dangers of prescription drug addiction would go a long way, but a mere 26 percent of prescribers across the state participate in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Most people underestimate the risks associated with prescription drugs, as well as the legal charges that they could face. Physicians aren’t always properly trained in dosage guidelines, largely because there are few consistent restrictions.

Although prescription drug abuse is a statewide problem, some areas fare worse than others. We will break down how Arizona is affected by the rampant prescription drug abuse epidemic that has hit all of the United States, not just Arizona, on a county by county basis. Here are important statistics for each county, listed alphabetically.

Breakdowns by County

Below, we’ll break down each county and detail the difference between each one:

Apache County

Two million pain reliever pills were dispensed in Apache County last year. Six percent of youth and 13 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were 27 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Arrest rates in Apache County increased 48 percent from 2010 to 2012.

Cochise County

Nearly 8 million pain reliever pills were dispensed in Cochise County last year, making it among the highest. Nine percent of youth and 26 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were 111 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Arrest rates in Cochise County were 8th highest in the state in 2012.

Coconino County

Over 5 million pain reliever pills were dispensed in Coconino County last year. Seven percent of youth and 13 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were 95 emergency room visits involving dependency or abuse of opioids.

Gila County

Another 5 million pain reliever pills were dispensed in Gila County last year. Seven percent of youth reported current misuse, but only 5 percent of adults stated the same. There were 71 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Gila County was number one in the state for DUI-D arrest rates in 2013.

Graham County

A reported 3 million pain reliever pills were dispensed in Graham County last year, making it among the highest. Five percent of youth and 26 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were 82 emergency room cases involving opioid abuse or dependency. Arrest rates for narcotics in Graham County were 7th highest in the state in 2012.

Greenlee County

Over 500,000 pain reliever pills were dispensed in Greenlee County last year. Eight percent of youth and 26 percent of adults in the region reported current misuse, although numbers in Greenlee were lower. There were only 8 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids in 2011.

La Paz County

In La Paz County, 1.2 million pain reliever pills were dispensed last year. Eight percent of youth and 24 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were only 7 emergency room cases involving dependency or opioid abuse.

Maricopa County

Cochise County reported that 189 million pain reliever pills were dispensed last year, making it among the highest in the state. Eight percent of youth and 12 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were an astonishing 7.761 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Arrest rates for narcotics in Maricopa County were highest in the state in 2012.

Mohave CountyLack of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs in Arizona

Mohave County had equally distressing numbers, with 19.9 million pain reliever pills dispensed last year. Eleven percent of youth report current misuse, which is the highest rate in the state. Thirteen percent of adults reported misuse as well. There were 253 emergency room cases involving dependency or opioid abuse. Narcotic possession arrest rates in Mohave County were 3rd highest in the state in 2012.

Navajo County

Over 6 million pain reliever pills were dispensed last year in Navajo County. Eight percent of youth and 13 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were 53 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Narcotic possession arrest rates were 7th highest in the state in 2012.

Pima County

Sixty-one million pain reliever pills were dispensed last year in Pima County, making it among the highest. Eight percent of youth and 15 percent of adults reported current misuse, although they rank 5th in youth abuse rates. There were 2,834 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Narcotic possession arrest rates were 2nd highest in the state in 2012.

Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County fared better than others, with 1.2 million pain reliever pills dispensed last year. Six percent of youth and 26 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were only 29 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids.

Yavapai County

With 16 million pain reliever pills dispensed last year in Yavapai County, the area has been suffering. Nine percent of youth and 13 percent of adults reported current misuse, ranking Yavapai 3rd in youth abuse rates. There were 296 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids in 2011. Narcotic possession arrest rates were 4th highest in the state in 2012.

Yuma County

In Yuma County, over 7 million pain reliever pills were dispensed last year. Seven percent of youth and 13 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were 113 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Narcotic possession arrest rates were 8th highest in the state in 2012, but the rates for drug manufacturing and sales were highest in Arizona there.

How to Help Fix Arizona’s Growing Prescription Drug Addiction Problem

Although the battle is uphill, there ways to reduce drug abuse rates in Arizona. First, practice proper storage of prescriptions. Most youth report getting drugs from family members. Avoid posting surgeries or injuries on social media. If people know that you have pain medication, it can make you a target. Support permanent prescription drug disposal boxes as well. Perhaps most importantly, talk about the issue. Silence fuels this growing crisis.

Reflections Recovery Is Arizona’s Partner in Battling Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction in Our State


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How Illicit Drug Use Contributes to Heart Disease

Many illegal drugs have negative cardiovascular effects, ranging from simple abnormal heart rates to full-on heart attacks. Using such substances leads to other related problems as well, particularly when injecting. Collapsed veins and infections in blood vessels and the heart are unfortunately common. In fact, they may put users on a fast track to heart disease.

A heart disease diagnosis is actually rather broad and covers blood vessel problems as well. Numerous issues develop as a result of atherosclerosis – a condition caused by plaque on the artery walls. The more plaque, the narrower the arteries and more effort required to push blood through. Blood clots form frequently in heart disease patients and can cause other conditions, such as stroke.

Cocaine: The Perfect ‘Heart Attack Drug’

Different drugs present different levels of risk, but cocaine is infamous for its effects on the heart. The substance is available in powdered and “crack” forms. The appearance and texture of this substance changes depending on how it’s created.

Users favor the different types of cocaine for specific consumption methods: Powdered cocaine is generally snorted or dissolved in water and injected, while crack can be smoked.

How Cocaine Affects the Body

Cocaine has earned its reputation as a heart attack drug because it targets the arteries and heart. The substance acts as a stimulant, meaning that it floods the user with adrenaline. The reaction is similar to that of a frightening situation, but without the natural stimuli. Instead, the adrenaline forces an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

A common and direct effect of the adrenaline is chest pain. It’s a sign that the organ is overexerting itself and pumping blood too hard. The stress raises the pressure in the heart and arteries to dangerous levels. It also causes hardening and of the blood vessels and thicker heart muscle – both of which can directly cause a heart attack, in addition to further complications.

Studies have shown that cocaine causes significant physical changes to the heart instead of just mild alterations. Researchers studied various users and found that a 30 to 35 percent increase in aortic stiffness was simply average. They also found that cocaine users had blood pressure that was 8 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) higher than non-users and that the left ventricle wall of the heart was usually 18 percent thicker.

The Prevalence of Cocaine

Despite its danger, cocaine is one of the most popular drugs in America. It reaches people of all ages and backgrounds and has been the cause of countless medical emergencies. In fact, around 40 percent of all illicit drug-related ER visits trace back to cocaine. This equates to more than 500,000 cases of emergency cocaine treatment each year – more than double the number of cases associated with heroin.

The Other Risks of Illicit Drug Use

Using illegal drugs provides a host of threats to the body and mind in addition to heart problems. The issues compound in many cases and result in terrible reactions, hospitalization and even death. This is because most drugs directly affect the central nervous system and modify the user’s consciousness.

Drug use subjugates the entire body to negative side effects, such as:

  • Body temperature changes
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Impaired judgement
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Poisoning from drug additives
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Overdose

In addition to the short-term side effects, drug users suffer from various long-term changes. The exact effects depend on the drug, but brain damage and various cancers are most commonly experienced.

The delivery method of a drug also impacts the body’s reaction. Injecting oneself with dirty needles, for example, can leave the individual with HIV.

Other Drugs Dangerous to the Heart

Despite the fact that cocaine is the most common, it’s not the only illicit drug that causes heart issues. Amphetamines and MDMA (ecstasy) both boost a user’s heart rate and blood pressure, as well. The long- and short-term effects vary, but both have proven highly dangerous.

Seeking Help Against the Temptation

Drug addiction is dangerous. It’s a frightening condition that can erode users’ physical health while also affecting every relationship in their lives. Quitting is difficult, bordering on impossible for many people.

Those who search for professional assistance, instead of at-home remedies, have the best chance at kicking the habit, thanks to proven resources and specialized support groups. Seek professional treatment today if you find yourself in this situation.

Reflections Recovery’s Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center